Zifty.com is a small, web-based delivery business in Atlanta, Georgia. The company has partnerships with 50 to


Zifty.com is a small, web-based delivery business in Atlanta, Georgia. The company has partnerships with 50 to 60 unique local restaurants representative of the Atlanta area. When placing orders, Zifty customers are asked to provide their postal codes. This information generates a list of restaurants within that person's delivery area. If a customer requires more than a meal, Zifty, which operates out of a warehouse, also stocks a wide range of goods. Customers can order items like ice cream, toilet paper, and medicine, as well as choose from over two thousand movies. The company, which advertises delivery in about an hour, provides a convenient alternative to customers who have no desire to get in their cars and drive themselves. Zifty managers handle a mixture of administrative duties and hands on tasks. Manager Sarah Bellamy says that during lunch and dinner shifts, she is responsible for making sure that drivers have their equipment ready and that orders are called in to restaurant partners on time. Bellamy also oversees preparations in the warehouse and handles a cash bank. If problems occur while drivers are en route, or if customers have concerns or questions, Bellamy must respond quickly. Customers expect their food to be hot and arrive on time. Orders that are incorrect in any way are a risk to the company. Zifty's Facebook site is full of customer reviews. Negative evaluations are the equivalent to negative advertising. Manager Dylan Kite interviews potential Zifty employees, follows up on reference checks, plans delivery routes, and checks warehouse inventory. He also balances cash tills, follows up on all orders, and communicates with multiple restaurant partners. Kite says that in such a fast-paced environment with so many moving parts, communication is essential in order to stay organized. Following up with customers and restaurant partners is an essential part of the delivery business. Kite says e-mail is used a lot to make sure that customers received exactly what they asked for. Zifty drivers cover a lot of territory across Atlanta, but the company itself operates out of a relatively small warehouse space. Driver Gabe Vodika says that working in a small space makes it easy to get in touch with anyone at any time when there is a need. As Bellamy explains, Zifty drivers are considered to be the face of the company. They see and speak with customers directly. When problems do occur on route, Zifty drivers use walkie-talkies to communicate back and forth with the warehouse. Vodika says that most problems can be solved quickly using the radios. In many cases, all that is required is one call by a Zifty manager to a restaurant to sort out minor mix ups. Zifty managers must be able to communicate effectively with multiple employees. Kite says that the best method is always to be honest and set clear expectations so staff can feel confident about what they do. He also says that over communicating is something that managers should avoid. It prevents employees from having the freedom or motivation to do their jobs. When employees are not performing up to expectation, managers must address and resolve these issues quickly. Bellamy says that communicating around performance difficulties can be hard and showing frustration is counterproductive. She explains that asking employees how they would do things differently the next time and looking for future solutions is a more effective approach. Zifty is a small company that benefits from having an informal network of communication. Bellamy says that there are not too many service-based companies in Atlanta that operate on a scale as large as Zifty, and that have a direct line of communication between the drivers and the owners of company. Zifty recognizes that its employees are the face of the company and that their experiences and knowledge are valuable. The company incorporates the feedback process into their communication with employees. Vodika says, that since the communication is so open, drivers have a say in what happens, policy-wise. Zifty owners listen to their employees and act on the information that they are given. Bellamy says that there have been several occasions when the company has changed a policy based on a driver's suggestion. Zifty continually monitors feedback from customers. During Bellamy's two years of service with the company she has seen some changes that have been the direct result of comments from customers. She explains that the company tried out a monthly membership club and a customer rewards program based on emails that customers had sent it. Zifty owners did some research to determine what would work well for the company and implemented both programs. Zifty appears to be in a good position in terms of growth. Bellamy observes that Atlanta is a huge area and people do not want to get back in their cars. For this reason, many customers are willing to pay a bit more for service that enables them to stay in one place. Kite says that Zifty is unique and that by providing both the warehouse side and the restaurant side with the business customers can find what they need in one website. To reach out to a greater audience, Zifty markets its services through partnerships with two local newspapers. Bellamy explains that in return for sending out the two papers with every order, Zifty receives advertising space in each publication. The company has relied on this strategy for a long time in addition to sending email blasts out to existing customers about sales and promotions. Zifty is careful not to send out too much information to customers too often. The company does its best to market wisely while offering current and popular products at the same time.
1. Using Exhibit 7-1, explain how the communication process works at Zifty.com.
2. Assess the richness of the communication channels used at Zifty.com. Do you think they are making good choices with regards to channels?
3. Describe downward, upward, and lateral communication at Zifty.com. Do you think that most companies use these three methods of communication in similar ways?
4. How are Zifty.com employees challenged by the management of information? How does the company try to help them to manage these challenges?
5. Zifty.com hires a diverse range of employees. What should the company understand about high- vs. low-context cultures in order to more effectively communicate with employees from many cultures?
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Organizational Behaviour Concepts Controversies Applications

ISBN: 978-0132310314

6th Canadian Edition

Authors: Nancy Langton, Stephen P. Robbins, Timothy A. Judge, Katherine Breward

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